The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s annual Multicultural Greek Stroll Off will make its Lied Center for Performing Arts debut on Saturday, Sept. 21.
The event, hosted by the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services, will begin at 7 p.m. and include performances from eight chapters from both the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council. This year it will be held at the Lied Center, as opposed to the Nebraska Union’s Centennial Room, to accommodate more people.
Ashley Swift, a graduate assistant for NPHC and MGC, said the competition usually has judges who score the strolls based on appearance, creativity, complexity, enthusiasm and transitions. The team with the most points from the judges wins.
Charlie Foster, the diversity and inclusion assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center director, said the stroll off will double as a recruiting event since students from Lincoln Southeast High School and Dawes Middle School will also perform through a partnership between the event and the schools.
“We want people to see the organizations doing great things as well as highlighting the community,” she said. “The [middle and high school] kids, they're coming in to perform, their families come to campus, they get to see all these students who are bright and sunshiny wanting to do good things. It's a win, win and a win.”
Historically, a stroll off is a dance-off between black fraternities and sororities, according to Jeannette Jones, an associate professor of history and ethnic studies. Currently, UNL’s stroll off includes various other multicultural Greek chapters.
The strolling, or stepping, tradition, which Swift said began when NPHC organizations were founded more than 100 years ago, has roots in the African diaspora, or the dispersion of African people during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, according to Jones.
She said various African cultures have traditions involving dancing in circles to showcase their unity and strength. Others, she said, dance in lines as part of cultural or religious rites. During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, enslaved Africans brought these traditions to the Western Hemisphere.
Foster said the event focuses on multicultural Greeks who may not always get the recognition they deserve. Many of these organizations, she said, were created during a time when they were not allowed to be part of NPHC or the Interfraternity Council.
“The idea is to highlight the really great things these organizations do — not just their strolling,” she said. “It gives us an opportunity for a conversation in a different way. OASIS takes it seriously, this focus on diversity and inclusion. Making sure that these orgs get the kind of props, as they say, is important to us.”
In previous years, Foster said they had about 600 people attend. Now that it’s moving to the Lied Center this year, which can seat more than 2,000 people, Foster encourages everyone to come and bring a friend.
“We will have folks from all these different backgrounds in one space,” Foster said. “It's a wonderful opportunity to learn. This is for everyone, and it's in the Lied so there's room for you, your friends, your roommate — bring them all. It's a time for us to enjoy a good thing together.”